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Petrichor: The smell after rainfall


[pot-er] /ˈpɒt ər/
verb (used without object), noun, Chiefly British.
putter1 .
Origin of potter2
1520-30; frequentative of obsolete, dial. pote to push, poke, Middle English poten, Old English potian to push, thrust. See put, -er6
Related forms
potterer, noun
potteringly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pottered
Historical Examples
  • He pottered back to the fireplace, and rubbed his shoulders reflectively against the mantelpiece.

    Jill the Reckless P. G. (Pelham Grenville) Wodehouse
  • What did they think about, these women, as they pottered about?

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The horse was a knackers body, a sorry spectacle, and in that climate he but pottered about waiting for disease to take him.

    The Sea and the Jungle H. M. Tomlinson
  • After a time he pottered to his feet, and strolled out into the garden.

  • They pottered about just beyond rifle shot, and their numbers were slightly increased.

    A Master of Fortune Cutcliffe Hyne
  • He made me sick wi' the way he pottered an' played the fool about the invention.

    T. Tembarom Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • That night Rosamund undressed very slowly and "pottered about" in her room, doing dreamily unnecessary things.

    In the Wilderness Robert Hichens
  • Vanderzee pottered at his books behind the bar, smoking a china pipe.

    Isle o' Dreams Frederick F. Moore
  • Still sneering, he got up and pottered about in slippers and pyjamas till he had stirred together the fire and made himself cocoa.

    The Literary Sense E. Nesbit
  • By th' twenty-first, I reckon, he'll be pottered in his brains how to get 'em done in time.

    North and South Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
British Dictionary definitions for pottered


a person who makes pottery


(intransitive; often foll by about or around) to busy oneself in a desultory though agreeable manner
(intransitive; often foll by along or about) to move with little energy or direction: to potter about town
(transitive) usually foll by away. to waste (time): to potter the day away
the act of pottering
Derived Forms
potterer, especially (US & Canadian) putterer, noun
Word Origin
C16 (in the sense: to poke repeatedly): from Old English potian to thrust; see put


(Helen) Beatrix. 1866–1943, British author and illustrator of children's animal stories, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
Dennis (Christopher George). 1935–94, British dramatist. His TV plays include Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Singing Detective (1986), and Blackeyes (1989)
Paulus. 1625–54, Dutch painter, esp of animals
Stephen. 1900–70, British humorist and critic. Among his best-known works are Gamesmanship (1947) and One-Upmanship (1952), on the art of achieving superiority over others
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pottered



"maker of pots" (they also sometimes doubled as bell-founders), late Old English pottere "potter," reinforced by Old French potier "potter," agent noun from root of pot (n.1). As a surname from late 12c. Potter's field (1520s) is Biblical, a ground where clay suitable for pottery was dug, later purchased by high priests of Jerusalem as a burying ground for strangers, criminals, and the poor (Matt. xxvii:7). An older Old English word for "potter" was crocwyrhta "crock-wright."


"occupy oneself in a trifling way," 1740, earlier "to poke again and again" (1520s), frequentative of obsolete verb poten "to push, poke," from Old English potian "to push" (see put (v.)). Sense of "occupy oneself in a trifling way" is first recorded 1740. Related: Pottered; pottering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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